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Hard Contract (1969)

 -  Drama | Mystery  -  23 June 1969 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 312 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 8 critic

A cold hearted American hit man goes to Europe for 'one last score'. His encounter with a beautiful young woman casts self doubt on his lifeblood, and influences him to resist carrying out the contract



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Complete credited cast:
Patrick Magee ...
Michael Carlson
Claude Dauphin ...
Helen Cherry ...
Evelyn Carlson
Sabine Sun ...
Belgian Prostitute


A cold hearted American hit man goes to Europe for 'one last score'. His encounter with a beautiful young woman casts self doubt on his lifeblood, and influences him to resist carrying out the contract

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An Unmoral Picture. See more »


Drama | Mystery


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 June 1969 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Antes amar... después matar  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was the only cinema film to be directed by S. Lee Pogostin, a well-known television writer. James Coburn later claimed in interviews that Pogostin was the cause of the film's considerable box-office failure, as he had refused to alter his extremely wordy script and then proved to have little idea of how to direct a film. According to Coburn, the actors more or less directed themselves whilst cameraman Jack Hildyard handled the technical details. See more »


John Cunningham: Murder is obsolete.
Ramsey Williams: I'm an old-fashioned man and I prefer and old-fanshioned contract. Get back to me when death is obsolete.
John Cunningham: It is obsolete! It's all obsolete! How do you think bitching became so big?
See more »

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User Reviews

He then saw the Light. And it was GOOD!
4 October 2005 | by (Brooklyn NY USA) – See all my reviews

**SPOILERS** Should have been titled "Redemption of a Hit Man" the movie "Hard Contract" is really a good film that's just a bit over philosophical in it's message but still well worth watching. Super-cool CIA assassin John Cunningham, James Coburn, gets to see the light but it takes John to go almost halfway through the movie for him to finally see it.

Being the #1 killer for his country John has nerves of steel and ice-water in his veins for blood with absolutely no feelings at all for those that he does in. Just give him a name and location, plus a hefty fee, and that's all he needs to be motivated to kill someone.

On election day John ices a victim in a movie house votes in the local election and spends the rest of the afternoon with a hooker Ellen, Karen Black, to work off his excess energy that John has a lot of. The next day John goes to see his controller or boss a CIA man who uses his job, a physics college professor, as a cover James Ramsey, Burgess Meredith.

This is the big one or hard contract as Ramesy calls it. The hit that can put John in the money and have him retire from the business of contract killing for good. Three hits in three cities in Spain and Belgium with the last victim being revealed to John after the first two hits and he's home free.

Going to Spain to get the job, or jobs, done John runs into a number of people and incidents that changes his life forever. And after those experiences he'll never as much hit kill or murder anyone again! Not even Adolf Hitler if he were still alive and John was given a contract on him by the CIA!

Running into American tourist and jet setter Sheila Mecalfe, Lee Remick, who's also a part-time hooker on the side and her goofy and naive but good hearted friend socialite Adrianne, Lilli Palmer, John learns that killing isn't right. John also learns that being at peace with the world and himself as well is what it's really all about. By the time the movie ends John throws away his weapons of death and destruction his job as a CIA hit-man and his unemotional detachment to the human race and becomes a true pacifist and lover of man and womankind alike!

Without going into all the details of what happened to John, to open up his eyes to what's good in the world, you have to see the film for yourself to really appreciate it. John has a revelation that's truly a miracle. The type that you find in the Holy Bible. John, or later Saint John, isn't that quickly converted to a good, or non-violent, life. He does knock off the first two persons that he was told to do in by his boss Ramsey. Later as the truth about the saying "Love thy Neighbor as Theyself" slowly takes hold over him John just can't bring himself to knock off the third person former top CIA hit-man Michael Carson, Sterling Hayden, or anyone else for that matter.

Carson, like his soul-mate Sheila, let's John in to what's good and what's bad and good, as Carson tells him, is far far better in fact there's no comparison what's so ever! Carson a more vicious and effective hit-man in his heyday then even John is now has become so passive he looks like he converted to become a ultra non-violent Quaker of Amish! A person who wouldn't even defend himself or his family even if his or their lives were in danger! There's one thing about being a peaceful and non-violent person but that's going a little bit too far!

At the end of the movie even the blood thirsty and murderous Ramsey, who's obsessed with killing, saw the light. Ramsey flew to Spain to first save John for the insanity that overtook him. A paid government assassin who doesn't want to kill anyone what kind of CIA hit-man is John anyway! Then not only does Ramsey become as big a pacifist as John but also falls in love with the daffy and zany Adrianne! In the end we see both John and Sheila and Ramsey and Adrianne romping in the grass, as the movie "Hard Conract" ends.

Everyone in the film only wants the best things, living in peace with their fellow man, out of life instead of the worst,taking one's life, which is all that John and Ramsey knew about and practiced. That was until they saw and experienced the truth: Which is that it's better to live in peace then to kill each other. And it was that truth that finally set them free, from a life of selfishness destruction misery and death, forever.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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